As a small business owner, the collective voice of your customers is something you should be paying attention to. Of course, you want to pay attention to individual voices as well, but the big picture is even more important. Gone are the days when you don’t have time or resources to listen; there are so many ways to actually pay attention that there is no good excuse not to do so. From surveys to customer service emails to phone calls, it’s hard to find yourself without any customer feedback. The best thing about collecting customer feedback is that it doesn’t even have to be formal—a question here or there, a survey that offers a coupon, or an informal conversation in person are all adequate.
So, why should you care about customer feedback? You do your job and you know you do it well, so why do you need people telling you what you can do better? Sometimes you don’t, but sometimes you might also be pleasantly surprised about what you learn when you do listen.
Learning How to Listen
Not all of us are gifted at listening. We talk over people, we ignore what they have to say, and we know our opinions are better. However, when it comes to our customers, the tides change a bit. These are the people we serve. They know what they need, and we need to meet those needs. One of those needs is to be heard. Sometimes a customer prefers to have a chat in person; sometimes they just want to send a quick email and get a reply later. This is part of learning how to listen—by listening in the ways customers want you to listen.
Focus is one of the most important skills you can cultivate as a small business owner or employee. Part of staying focused means that you adjust often based on the information you’ve received so that you’re always moving toward the goal you’re focused on. This can be tricky, but it’s essential. Never let your methods be carved in stone; constant adjustments based on customer suggestions will get you headed in the right direction. Your entire company and its policies and protocols should be based on what your goal is and how you want to achieve it.
Great Ideas Are Out There
Your six year old nephew can come up with amazing ideas in the same way that a customer that hardly knows your company can. Good improvements come from a lot of locations, and listening to your customers—and friends and family, to name a few sources—will bring you some excellent, innovative ideas for practically nothing except for a little reading (or talking) time. Obviously, this is far superior to paying someone to give you good ideas, which can be unproductive and costly. A good client idea is worth a thousand bad paid ones.
There is a ton you can learn from customer feedback, and the longer you listen, the better. Always remember to pay attention to how the feedback can get you closer to your goal, and make sure that you give a look to every idea that comes your way.